©Levent Kulu

UNDP Turkey Goodwill Ambassador Mert Fırat meets Syrians learning Turkish

Among them are those who have recently arrived in Turkey as well as those who have recently seized the opportunity despite having lived here for years. They have started to learn Turkish hoping a better life in their new country. Language training is of utmost importance to Syrians living in Turkey. It is the key to reading, writing, working, joining the society, and above all to communicating and therefore existing.

In order to meet this important need, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) started providing Turkish language courses for adult Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey, on 25 March 2019, under the “Turkey Resilience Project in response to the Syria Crisis (TRP)”, funded by the European Union (EU). A total of 52,000 adult Syrians will learn Turkish at 53 Public Education Centres in 10 provinces of Turkey.

Trainees at Istanbul Zeytinburnu Public Education Centre, one of the 53 centres providing such training, had a pleasant surprise on Thursday, April 11. UNDP Turkey Goodwill Ambassador Mert Fırat visited them at the Turkish language course.

An exciting day was in the making for Mert Fırat and UNDP Turkey team who met at Zeytinburnu in the early hours. They first shot a short video for posting on the social media, then met with Ms. Seden Çetin, one of the teachers at Zeytinburnu Public Education Centre, then proceeded to the Centre.

Syrian trainees at the Centre were excitedly waiting for Mert Fırat’s arrival. Close friends Şirin and Dilan said they loved him very much and were impatient to see him. Mert Fırat and UNDP Turkey team finally arrived at Zeytinburnu Public Education Centre and were welcomed by Mr. Orhan Ayyıldız, Director.

Not keeping the already excited trainees in waiting, Mert Fırat visited the class by Ms. Betül Özkan, a trainer, and was joyfully welcomed.

Serving as a trainer for a part of the lesson, Mert Fırat explained pronouns, told about various occupations and countries, and gave examples from his life. He asked questions to and conversed with trainees.

Inquiring the Syrians about their experience to date, what challenges they encountered and why they wanted to learn Turkish, Fırat listened to their dreams which they wished to achieve by the training. Some said they wanted to find a job, some to continue education; but all had definitely wanted to join the society.

Noting that learning Turkish was important for Syrian individuals to empower themselves and participate in social life, and that he was very happy for the visit, Mert Fırat said: “The language problem is the largest barrier for Syrian individuals to living in harmony with the host communities, and earning their lives. I believe that speaking the same language will entail many facilities.”

Syrian participants stated that meeting with Mert Fırat was an unforgettable experience, and gave them more strength and motivation for learning Turkish.

Conversing also with the children of trainees, Mert Fırat had many photo shoots with everyone, then bid farewell.

Turkish language training for adults under the “Turkey Resilience Project in response to the Syria Crisis (TRP)”

Language training is very important for refugees trying to build a new life in a new country. While language is the largest barrier to social and economic integration, language training represents an opportunity to access education and labour markets, self-sufficiency, self-confidence and hope.

The “Adult Language Training Component” of TRP is implemented in collaboration of the General Directorate of Lifelong Learning of the Turkish Ministry of National Education of Turkey and the United Nations Development Programme. The project is funded by the European Union (EU).

The training is delivered at 53 Public Education Centres in 10 provinces of Turkey. Syrians living in Adana, Bursa, Gaziantep, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kilis, Konya, Mersin and Şanlıurfa will be able to attend the courses. The training in Istanbul is delivered in 11 districts. These districts are, Arnavutköy, Bağcılar, Başakşehir, Esenler, Esenyurt, Fatih, Kağıthane, Küçükçekmece, Sultanbeyli, Ümraniye and Zeytinburnu.

It is aimed that 50 percent of the participants across the country should be women so that the training will contribute to empowering Syrian women. Of the 283 master trainers who deliver training to Syrian individuals, 68 percent are women.

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